As expected, “Pokémon GO” creator and Niantic Labs CEO John Hanke made an appearance at the SXSW (South by Southwest) 2017 on Friday. And while fans anticipated for him to give more details about the planned updates for the augmented reality game, Hanke focused more on the positive effects of the famous mobile gaming app to its users during his conference. Interestingly, he managed to interject another revelation about the plans of the company he also founded.
Hanke was one of the speakers during the Augmented Reality and Urban Revitalization conference on Friday noon. The panel started with a presentation on the benefits of playing “Pokémon GO” to the players’ health and how the game encouraged more people to go outside. Hanke commented that “Pokémon GO” has promoted better community engagement and communication since its launch.
Additionally, Niantic’s CEO once again reiterated how he and his team did not at all expect the game to be this successful. The last time Hanke talked about the game publicly was at the Mobile World Congress early this month. At the time he proudly shared that the downloads for “Pokémon GO” crossed the 650 million mark — an impressive feat for an app that’s less than a year old.
Aside from mentioning the viral explosion of his mobile app, Hanke also acknowledged how many people keep on mentioning that the number of active users has already dwindled. “People tell me ‘Pokémon GO’ died down. I assure you, [tens] of millions of people are still using ‘Pokémon GO’ everyday,” he was quoted as saying by Pokémon GO Hub.
While many fans were hoping for him to spill the beans about the remaining three major updates for this year, Hanke did not speak of the updates at SXSW. The only thing he disclosed about the developments related to “Pokémon GO” was the fact that they had already doubled the size of the team working on the game ever since the Gen 2 Update was launched. In hindsight, they could have done this because the next major update has already been confirmed to change the overhaul how Poké Gyms work.
The main takeaway from Hanke’s attendance at the conference came right before the Q&A session when the CEO announced that “new products” are coming at the “next event.” It wasn’t clear what “next event” Hanke was referring to when he said this, but the words “new products” were more than enough to excite the audience. His follow-up statement was also pretty vague. “PokéStops are being used to showcase local culture and history. This is usually done by local government, but companies like Niantic and the Knight Foundation are using technology to put that into the hands of consumers.”
Previously, Hanke divulged his thoughts on AR glasses and how this technology could alter the way gamers play “Pokémon GO.” “They would make it possible to play the game in a way to keep your head up, to keep eye contact with other people. You would see all the cool stuff around you,” he said. He also stated at the time they are willing to extend their support to “relevant devices” on the market, since they do not have plans of developing AR hardware as of late.